UPPER PROVIDENCE >> Ben Samuelson wasn’t a pitcher two seasons ago.
He was a sophomore second basemen on the Owen J. Roberts junior varsity squad. Even dating back to last year as a junior, Samuelson saw very little work on the mound, making just one relief appearance for the varsity squad before tendinitis kept him from pitching the rest of the season.
“I came in relief for one outing, had a pretty good outing, and I was done after that,” Samuelson said. “It was tough not being out there, but you just gotta do what you gotta do.”
Samuelson’s patience has paid off as he has turned into one of two steady presences on the mound for OJR in his senior year. He and Sam Morris have kept the Wildcats in every game they’ve started.
The most recent instance was Samuelson’s outing in an 11-1 win over Pope John Paul II in six innings on Wednesday. Samuelson pitched into the sixth inning, allowing one earned run and striking out six batters compared to one walk.
“Ben and Sam, they’re our rocks on the mound,” senior catcher Jordan Siket said.
Pitching has been a strength for Owen J. Roberts (3-3 Liberty, 7-3 PAC) this season.
Outside of a mercy-rule shortened win over Norristown, Samuelson and Morris have gone at least four innings and allowed three earned runs or fewer in every league contest either one of them has started.
Beyond the starters, Zac Weaver has allowed just one run in 14.1 innings out of the Wildcats’ bullpen in six relief appearances in PAC play. Brad Pryor, who recorded the last two outs in Wednesday’s game, has also been a reliable reliever.
“It helps our relief staff throw less innings, less pitches, so they can come back earlier than normal,” Samuelson said of the deep outings from the starters.
Pope John Paul II (2-4 Frontier, 2-8 PAC) opened its conference slate with a win over Upper Perkiomen, but the Panthers have since dropped eight of the nine games they’ve played.
Though PJP has seven seniors in its lineup, the Panthers lack a lot of varsity experience. The team lost three one-run games after the opener against Upper Perk, and head coach Josh Hartline said the losses piled up mentally on his team.
“Losing a couple games early in the season by one run and tough losses can affect teams who don’t have the experience that other teams have had,” Hartline said. “We didn’t really have expectations. We didn’t really know what we had.”
“Now, we’re trying to figure out what we have. Certain guys are playing out of position. Certain guys are pitching that haven’t pitched in a couple years. We’re trying to see what we can find and piecemeal it together moving toward the end of the year.”
The Wildcats dropped their first two league games, losing late leads in one-run defeats to Boyertown and Methacton. Unlike PJP, they have since regrouped. OJR is on a six-game winning streak after Wednesday’s win. The Wildcats have won five league games during that stretch, including extra-inning wins over Perkiomen Valley and Methacton.
Ryan Sayers tallied three hits, came around to score three times and drove in two runs for OJR, and Siket and Josh Diamond had two hits and two RBI each to lead OJR to a victory on Wednesday.
The Wildcats face Boyertown at 7 p.m. on Friday night. The Bears and Spring-Ford, the last team to defeat OJR, are the two Liberty teams the Wildcats have yet beat.
“We got some fire under us, and we just wanted to start winning those one-run games,” Siket said. “And we are. We’re starting to get on a roll here, and hopefully we can take down Boyertown.”
CJ McCafferty went 3-for-3 and John Wagner had two hits, including a solo home run, to highlight the Panthers’ day offensively. Five errors and a few other miscues kept PJP from making it a competitive contest.
The Panthers have seven regular season games left, which for a large majority of the team will mark the end of their high school careers.
“That’s what I was explaining,” Hartline said. “Guys let’s not finish up going, ‘Oh we’ve screwed up, we’ve screwed up, we’ve screwed up.’ Let’s finish going, ‘Hey, we did improve, we did listen, and we got a lot better as the season went on and finished strong.’ That’s all I’m asking for.”
Owen J. Roberts 11
Pope John Paul II 1
OJ ROBERTS POPE JOHN PAUL II
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Iyoob 3 0 0 1 McCffrty 3 0 3 0
Rinehimr 3 1 1 0 ONeill 3 0 0 0
Morris 4 2 2 0 Petery 2 0 0 0
Siket 3 0 2 2 Anders 1 0 0 0
Sayers 4 3 2 2 Wagner 3 1 2 1
JDiamond 4 1 2 2 Bendig 3 0 0 0
Bealer 3 1 0 0 Leighton 3 0 1 0
Hannevig 3 0 1 1 Hamilton 2 0 0 0
BDiamond 1 0 0 0 Rubndall 2 0 0 0
McGinley 2 1 0 1 LaPree 0 0 0 0
Hmstreet 0 2 0 0 Bowen 2 0 0 0
Samuelsn 0 0 0 0
Pryor 0 0 0 0
Totals 30 11 10 9 Totals 24 1 6 1
Owen J. Roberts 223 004 — 11
Pope John Paul II 000 100 0 — 1
E — Owen J. Roberts 1, Pope John Paul II 5. 2B-Siket, Sayers. HR-Wagner. SB-Morris, Hannevig, McGinley. SF-Iyoob.
IP H R ER BB SO
Owen J. Roberts
Samuelson (W) 5.1 6 1 1 0 6
Pryor 0.2 0 0 0 0 0
Pope John Paul II
McCafferty (L) 1.2 5 4 4 0 0
Rubendall 4 4 6 4 2 1
Kossey 0.1 1 1 0 0 0
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